update deskIsrael at War

IDF operating in ‘targeted manner’ in Rafah

The Israeli War Cabinet announced it decided to "continue the operation in Rafah to exert military pressure on Hamas."

A F-15 Eagle fighter jet takes off from an Israeli Air Force base to the Gaza Strip, Nov. 19, 2012. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90.
A F-15 Eagle fighter jet takes off from an Israeli Air Force base to the Gaza Strip, Nov. 19, 2012. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90.

The Israel Defense Forces began operating in “a targeted manner” against Hamas terrorist sites in the eastern part of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday night.

The military announcement came minutes after Israel’s War Cabinet decided unanimously to “continue the operation in Rafah to exert military pressure on Hamas in order to promote the release of our hostages and the other goals of the war,” per the Prime Minister’s Office.

According to a report by Israel’s Channel 12 News, which cited Arab media, IDF ground forces entered eastern Rafah accompanied by heavy airstrikes, including so-called “Belt of Fire” barrages, which entail setting off circular explosions around terrorist infrastructure.

Earlier Monday, the IDF called on residents of eastern Rafah to evacuate to humanitarian zones ahead of a planned military offensive to defeat Hamas’s four terror battalions in its final bastion in Gaza.

The IDF has marked out two evacuation zones: an expansion of the Al-Mawasi zone along the central-southern Gazan coastline, and Khan Yunis.

Monday’s message directs noncombatants to the expanded area in Al-Mawasi, which includes field hospitals, tents and increased amounts of food, water, medicine and other supplies.

The Cabinet decided on the evacuation on Sunday night, with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant informing U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin of the decision overnight. The area initially designated for evacuation contains around 100,000 people.

Gallant told Austin of “the many efforts that the State of Israel is making to reach an [agreement] for the release of hostages and a temporary ceasefire, and said that at this stage Hamas refuses any proposal that would allow this,” according to a readout of the call from Gallant’s office.

The Israeli defense minister emphasized that “there was no choice left and this meant the start of the Israeli operation in Rafah.”

U.S. President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call on Monday that a ceasefire deal with Hamas was the best way to protect the lives of the 132 hostages still held by the terrorist organization in Gaza.

Biden expressed his concerns over the IDF’s imminent military operation in Rafah, which Washington vehemently opposes.

The call took place as Hamas claimed it had accepted a ceasefire deal proposed by mediators, in what senior officials in Jerusalem described as “an exercise by Hamas meant to present Israel as the refuser.”

The proposal that Hamas claimed to have agreed to is unknown to Israel and the United States and did not come up in Netanyahu’s conversation with Biden, stressed a senior Israeli political official cited by Ynet.

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